Australian agri-startup cultivating cloud growth in America

Summary:A South American and European expansion could eventually be on the cards for Australian agricultural management and cloud collaboration software startup Agworld after a AU$6 million funding boost this week.

Australian agricultural management and cloud collaboration software startup Agworld is eyeing an international expansion plan that could see it eventually head to South America and Europe, after securing AU$6 million in Series C funding this week.

The funding round, which was led by the London and Amsterdam-headquartered Reed Elsevier Group and existing investor Yuuwa Capital, sees the Perth-based startup's total equity raised to date come in at AU$12 million.

Agworld provides a centralised cloud-based software platform for individuals involved in the crop production process, and allows for real-time collaboration and management of critical information, activities and recommendations throughout the crop production cycle.

While the company aims at using the new cash injection to broaden its footprint in the potential customer-rich US agricultural market, Agworld's California-based vice president Zach Sheely said that the South American and European markets could also eventually be on the cards.

"We're very aware of the other markets. However, I think the US is pretty much the largest agricultural market in the world, so we're focusing on the US and Canada right now," Sheely told ZDNet. "But we're doing some other things abroad. If the timing for unique opportunities comes up, we won't pass it up.

"We're keeping our eye on the UK and Europe and a few South American countries. Brazil is a monster of a market, so we're keeping our eyes there, along with Chile, Argentina," he said.

Sheely said that Agworld was also planning to roll out versions of its products in different languages, starting with the US — in which many agricultural workers speak Spanish.

Such a move would set the company up to easily deliver its products to other Spanish-speaking countries in the Americas. Sheely wants the company to eventually offer its products in several languages.

While Agworld is experience plenty of organic growth in the US and Canadian markets with its current platform browser and iOS-enabled iterations, Sheely said that an Android version would likely be available by next year.

Despite some interest from potential acquisition courters, Sheely said that Agworld will continue building its business in Australia, New Zealand, North America, and further afield as an independent entity.

"This round of funding will allow us to achieve our key goals of US market expansion and expanding our product offering," said Agworld CEO Doug Fitch in a blog post published this week on the company's website. "Most importantly, it has reinforced our position as leaders in the 'information management and technology space', for the agricultural industry in our core market segments."

The company first opened its US office in January 2012, and established a New Zealand office in April 2013. It has also signed deals with service distributors in South Africa.

This latest funding round follows moves by US agricultural leviathan Monsanto into the farming data science and software services sector, with its US$930 million acquisition late last year of The Climate Corporation, which combines big data, climatology, and agronomy in its services to farmers.

Topics: Start-Ups, Australia, Cloud

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Leon covers enterprise technology and start-ups from ZDNet's Sydney newsroom.

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